Belfast Telegraph

Dr Watt patient recall hearing delayed until 2020 - reports

Belfast neurologist, Dr Michael Watt
Belfast neurologist, Dr Michael Watt

A hearing into the doctor at the centre of the biggest patient recall in Northern Ireland history has been delayed until next year, according to reports.

The BBC has said that it understands that a hearing into the actions of Dr Michael Watt will not take place until 2020.

It emerged earlier this week that Dr Watt is set to retire on medical grounds.

In June a report into the patient recall was postponed by the Department of Health.

Dr Watt, who has been based at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for 20 years, was previously "restricted" from seeing patients in June 2017.

In May last year it emerged that more than 2,500 of his patients, including children, were to be recalled for a case review, following concerns some may have been misdiagnosed.

Five months later, it was revealed that a further 1,044 of Dr Watt's patients were also being recalled.

In January, Dr Watt was temporarily suspended from practising as a doctor in the UK by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, following a referral by the General Medical Council (GMC).

An investigation by the GMC is ongoing.

Back in May, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that a review into the deceased patients of Dr Watt, which was announced a year previously, had still not started.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, who are responsible for the review, said it was "a highly complex matter" and they were sensitive to the concerns of those who lost loved ones.

Sinn Fein health spokesperson Pat Sheehan said that the delay would cause great concern among the patients involved and their families.

"Those involved and their families have repeatedly spoken of their frustration at not being kept up to date with information, often feeling they are the last to know," the West Belfast MLA said.

"All of those affected are entitled to information and truth and the Department of Health must ensure they are kept up to date at all stages."

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